songwriting tips and advice

Songwriting tips: Insights and advice on the craft of writing a song

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We’ve posted songwriting tips that cover music theory, the use of interesting (and basic) chords to spice up your songs, lyric writing advice, and ways to channel creativity. We’ve collected a bunch of the posts here – check ’em out!

songwriting tips: mystery chordsMystery chords: “A Hard Day’s Night” and “London Calling”
Ever sit down to learn a song and find that no matter what chord you play, it’s just not right? We investigate two mystery chords in two classic songs.

songwriting tips: Paul McCartneyThe genius of Paul McCartney’s basslines
Paul McCartney’s basslines are an integral part of the Beatles’ evolution from world-beating pop band to musical pioneers. We identify just what McCartney did to make his parts stand out from what other bassists were doing at the time.

songwriting tips: McCartney post-beatlesAfter the Beatles: Paul McCartney’s basslines
The genius of Paul McCartney’s basslines never wavered, but his choices as a bass player post-Beatles show his focus was ever more on the song and serving the vocal melody, giving way to some unique songwriting tips.

songwriting tips: basslineWhen the bassline makes the song
There are lots of examples where the bassline is the prominent part of the song. This driving blues track from Gov’t Mule rages atop a super-dense bassline that propels the song.

songwriting tips: lyric tipsThings every lyricist should know
If you are a lyricist, or if you write melody but your strength is with lyrics, this is for you. These songwriting tips are more about mindset, so they’ll be helpful no matter what your thing is.

songwriting tips: major mediant chordThe major mediant chord can add an unexpected surprise
While the mediant isn’t as structurally integral as the tonic, dominant, or subdominant, employing its major variation can provide a surprise that will make listeners’ ears perk up.

songwriting tips: one chordCan you write a song with just one chord?
While it might be difficult to keep a song interesting if you limit it to one chord, it can help create tension, highlight your lyrics, or drive a hypnotic groove.

songwriting tips: Two ChordsCan you write a song with just two chords?
These songs from decades past show us that you can do a lot with just a little. Let’s explore the magic of the bVII-I progression and how two chords can make a song.

songwriting tips: inspirationFinding inspiration for your songs
Songs can be about anything, so why not look in unconventional places and use creative techniques to find the creative spark your next song needs?

songwriting tips: Trans Siberian OrchestraWhat you can learn from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra
The symphonic metal mashup of “Carol of the Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” holds songwriting lessons that can elevate music of any genre.

songwriting tips: alternate tuningAlternate guitar tuning can inspire your songwriting
Let’s explore some common — and some of the more obscure — alternate guitar tunings to inspire you to write your next musical masterpiece.

songwriting tips: suspended chordsUsing suspended chords in your songs
Suspended chords work as substitution chords, smooth out chord progressions, and add tension to your music. Here are examples of how to use suspended chords in your songs.

songwriting tips: eleventh chordLiven things up with eleventh chords
Eleventh chords can provide lush texture to your songs, but they can be confusing. We’ve got charts and real-world examples to help you better understand these extended chords.

songwriting tips: Eleventh & Thirteenth ChordsEleventh and thirteenth chords: How to play them on guitar
For some extended guitar chords — like a fully voiced thirteenth — there are more notes in the chord than there are strings. That’s where slash chords come in… with a little help from your bassist.

songwriting tips: Nashville TuningHow Nashville tuning can transform your arrangements
While Nashville tuning uses the same notes as a standard guitar tuning, when used by itself and in layers with other guitars, this tuning can bring an articulate presence to a recording.

songwriting tips: Conversational LyricsWriting conversational lyrics: Say it like you say it
Song lyrics are not poems. Lyrics can be poetic and should be interesting, but there’s power in conversational lyrics that sound like something the character in your song would actually say.

songwriting tips: cry when you writeCry when you write, dance when you produce
Johnny Dwinell and Brent Baxter lean on some sage advice Brent got from veteran songwriter Ralph Murphy. Excerpted from The CLIMB podcast, “Advice That Changed My Songwriting Career.”

songwriting tips: do's and don'tsSongwriting Dos and Don’ts
At a “Play For A Publisher” event, Brent Baxter and Johnny Dwinell hosted Stacey Willbur, VP of Publishing and A&R for Full Circle Music. Ms. Willbur shared her feedback about the songs that were showcased, and the boys break down some of her “knowledge bombs.”

songwriting tips: find the right keyChoose the right key for your songs
There are a lot of factors that play into choosing the right arrangement for a song — but choosing the right key for you and the musicians might be the most important.

songwriting tips: songwriting craftBecome a student of the songwriting craft
I want to talk to you about the number one reason why music artists fail, and I’m gonna be blunt about it: their songs aren’t good enough. Maybe these songwriting tips can help.

songwriting tips: find the next chordHow to find the next chord in the progression
For those times when you’re writing a song and can’t find the right chord to complete a progression, this technique — using applied music theory — will help you discover your best options and help you complete your song.

songwriting tips: lyrics with depthWriting lyrics with depth
If you are interested in writing lyrics with depth, you need a deep artistic well to draw from. All output requires input, and as a lyricist, I recommend you begin with words.

Professional songwriters offer advice on how to write a 
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